There are nearly two million farms currently operating in this country, and LocalHarvest said a majority of them are actually small or family owned. Every year, more and more of these farmers are making the decision to sell their
products directly to the public, whether through farmers markets, farm stands, or CSA programs. We can work together to strengthen our environment, communities, and local economies by purchasing directly from these farms.
1TO KNOW HOW YOUR FOOD IS PRODUCED Talking directly with farmers is a great way to learn how the food you purchase is produced. Farmers are proud of their food, so most of them love to discuss the techniques behind its production—and you never know who you might meet or what you might learn!
2TO EAT ORGANIC OR SUSTAINABLY GROWN FOOD AT BETTER PRICES Organic produce can be cheaper when purchased directly from farms rather than from supermarkets. Although some small farmers cannot afford to use every technique required in order to get their products certified as organic, many use sustainable growing practices such as growing without the use of pesticides or herbicides. That comes really close.
3TO ENJOY EATING SEASONALLY Farmers can only grow what Mother Nature intends for us to eat locally during a given season. Autumn brings pumpkins and other squash, spring offers asparagus and greens, and summer produces berries and corn. Seasonal produce can help us reconnect with nature and the seasons through our land—and the food is as fresh as can be.
4TO BE A HEALTHIER YOULocal farms do not usually process their foods like major stores do. You most likely will not find artificially flavored junk, foods waxed or encased in plastic, or hormone and antibiotic laden faire at local farms because they go to great lengths to protect the nutritious value of their products.
5TO SPICE UP YOUR LIFE WITH VARIETYNot only is local produce fresh and delicious, but each farm also has an array of interesting options that are hard to find at supermarkets. Heirloom tomatoes, for instance, with their beautiful shades of pinks, purples, and oranges, are probably not going to be at a supermarket. Neither are golden or purple cauliflowers, garlic scapes, red and purple carrots, or blue corn and potatoes. Variety exists in all plants and produce; you just rarely get to experience it in stores because they value consistency over variety.
6TO SUPPORT FAMILY OWNED FARMS AND FIGHT INDUSTRIAL AGRICULTURE Industrial agriculture is hurting our local economies. Small farmers struggle daily because of it, but they do the best they can to provide for their families and keep producing great food. Buying directly from local farms is the best way to combat industrial agriculture while supporting farmers
7IT’S SAFER FOR YOU AND THE ENVIRONMENTAccording to an article by professionals at the Center for a Livable Future, the risk of food safety problems has increased with the consolidation and globalization of farms. So, you can rest easy that your chance of contracting Listeria and E. coli is slim when you buy from local farms.
Purchasing food from local farms also leaves a smaller carbon footprint because, according to a study examining transportation and fuel requirements in 1980, food in the US can travel an average of 1,500 miles before it makes it to grocery stores, adding to the overuse of fossil fuels and aiding in the pollution of our planet. Shopping at local farms eliminates a lot of this waste.
8TO SUPPORT THE HUMANE TREATMENT OF FARM ANIMALSYou can inquire about the treatment of farm animals when buying directly from local farms. Ask whether they are raised with or without hormones and antibiotics, whether they are grass-fed, and whether humane techniques are used when obtaining milk or eggs. If you happen to be a meat or dairy eater, buying from a local farm is as fair as it gets regarding animal treatment.
9TO CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITYStrolling through a farmers market on a beautiful day and running into a friend can be a more pleasant experience than zipping by people in a busy grocery store. Supermarkets can make people feel rushed because of their focus on fast customer service, whereas local farms and markets are much more relaxed settings for shopping and socializing. Being a part of that is a great way to become an active community member.
9 1/2IT’S FUN!Seeing the delicious produce and the beautiful land on which it was grown, talking to the farmers themselves, sharing recipes, and feeling proud of your bounty makes shopping at local farms fun—and kids love it too. Can you remember running around on an apple orchard before heading home to bake a fresh pie? Shopping at local farms helps us to make memories and enjoy life.
Photo Credits - 1) Original Photo by Ethan Harrison 3) Photo provided by Hudson Valley Farm Hub 5) Jenkins Lueken Farm Stand, New Paltz 6) Photo by Ethan Harrison 8) Photo by Ethan Harrison